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July 2005

Release date: July 28, 2005

Early Aviation in West Texas to Take Flight at ASU Friends Meeting Aug. 4

A presentation by aviation historian Erik Carlson on San Angelo's Cromwell Airlines and the debut of a major exhibit "Early Aviation in West Texas" will highlight the annual membership meeting of the Friends of the Porter Henderson Library and West Texas Collection (WTC) Thursday, Aug. 4, at Angelo State University.

Dr. Carlson, coordinator for special collections for McDermott Library at the University of Texas at Dallas, will talk on "Connecting West Texas with America: Carl Cromwell and Cromwell Airlines, 1929-1930." Following his talk, the new WTC exhibit will open for public viewing.

Activities will begin at 6 p.m. Aug. 4 with the Friends annual membership meeting, which will include a report on the year's activities, the introduction of new board members and a report by ASU Library Director Dr. Maurice Fortin. Carlson will speak at 6:30 p.m. All activities will take place at the West Texas Collection on the second floor of the Houston Harte University Center at 1910 Rosemont on the ASU campus.

The exhibit "Early Aviation in West Texas" will display some of the WTC's remarkable photos and documents related to the story of early flight in the Concho Valley and beyond. Photos ranging from cowboys inspecting an early propeller aircraft to a downed biplane being pulled from a stock tank are among dozens of images gathered from WTC files for display.

Materials will feature photos and information on Ainsley Stuart, Jimmie Mattern, Roy Kindred, aviation pioneer and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, San Angelo Airport, Monsey Flying School, Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo Army Air Field (Mathis Field) and aviation material related to Pancho Villa from the Williwood Meador Collection.

San Angelo's surprising aviation history starts with Jimmie Mattern, who grew up in San Angelo and took his first plane ride here in 1921. He set 15 world records during the 1930s. His pilot's license was signed by Orville Wright and carried into space and signed by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Carl Cromwell helped bring in Santa Rita No. 1 and came to see aviation as a way of helping West Texas oil men cover the many miles involved in their business. In 1929 he started Cromwell Airlines in San Angelo, but the Great Depression caused financial problems for the company before Cromwell's untimely death in a 1931 auto accident in Pennsylvania.

The photographs of Ainsley Stuart, an early barnstormer and a "troubleshooter" for Gen. Hap Arnold during World War II, make up the bulk of the photos in the display.

Roy Kindred grew up in San Angelo, attended Lake View High School and served in World War II. He was killed in a plane crash in the Pacific, receiving the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. His service record, flag and medals are on display in the exhibit.

Autrey Monsey was a San Angelo aviation pioneer who in 1929 was hired as the first manager of the San Angelo Municipal Airport. He died in a plane crash in 1932.

The exhibit will be open during regular WTC hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, contact the West Texas Collection at 942-2164.